Nutrient Deficiencies Cause Health and Behavior Problems
If dogs will eat almost anything...why then, would they have nutrient deficiencies?
Well, maybe that's the point exactly.
If left to their own devices, living in the wild, dogs would instinctively know what to eat, to prevent a nutrient deficiency problem. Only if they couldn't get enough to eat, or if they were scrounging around in human garbage would this be an issue.
...but since our dogs live with us, they are dependent on us for their source of food. We love our dogs. We want the best for them. We honestly believe we are doing right by them, but sometimes with all the best of intentions, we are not providing optimal nutrition for our dogs.
~ Maybe your dog is suffering from malabsorption of nutrients due to inflammation in his bowel.
~ Maybe your dog has a health problem and cannot properly assimilate nutrients, thereby creating a condition of malnutrition.
~ Maybe your dog doesn't get enough to eat.
~ Maybe you think it's just dog food and it doesn't matter.
However, I think that if you have taken the trouble to read this website... that can't be you!
Definition of Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients. A number of different nutrition disorders may arise, depending on which nutrients are under or overabundant in the diet. ( Wikipedia )
How are Nutrient Deficiencies Defined?
A nutrient deficiency is the absence or insufficiency of some factor required for normal growth and development.
A nutrient deficiency disease is defined as an illness associated with an insufficient supply of one or more essential dietary constituents. For example...anemia is caused from an iron deficiency.
I am not going to go into all of the nutrients required for the health of our pet dogs and cats. That has been done already, and there are many good books on that subject...not the least of which is Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats put out by the National Research Council ( US ) Ad Hoc Committee on Dog and Cat Nutrition. It is a volumous edition and everything you need to know is there.
There are Six Essential Nutrients Required for Health
Deciding whether or not to supplement your dog's food is not easy. Over supplementation can destroy nutritional balance and even harm your dog.
However, I believe that some supplementation is necessary since commercial pet foods are subjected to heat during processing. Even if extra nutrients are then added to the food, who says that your dog is able to digest and metabolize those nutrients for proper assimilation?
The ability of your dog's body to metabolize nutrients can be affected by the quality and type of ingredients used, age, breed, state of general health and medications or drugs.
If your dog is sick, or has a chronic health problem, almost certainly some targeted herbs and supplements can help speed the healing process.
Take a good honest look at your dog.
~ Does his coat look shiny and healthy?
~ Is he happy and full of energy?
~ Is he mentally alert?
If you are not sure...if you think your dog might have a vitamin deficiency or other nutrient deficiency, don't take any chances...consult with your veterinarian or Natural Health Care Practitioner. Testing can be done to determine if this is so.
Here is another great book... Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats...sort of ' The Bible ' when it comes to natural health care for our pets. Everyone should keep this book handy on the shelf.
Nutrient Deficiencies May Be Responsible for Behavioral Problems
Some examples are:
Pica - is defined as the ingestion of unnatural objects, non food materials and substances ( socks, furniture, dirt, rocks, shoes, candy wrapper, etc ) which pose a threat to the health of the dog. These substances are thought to have no nutritive value.
There could be dietary deficiency reasons for this behavior. Perhaps the dog is trying unsuccessfully to meet his nutritional needs for vitamins minerals. Alternatively there could be physiologic or pathologic causes, such as boredom, anxiety, lack of exercise or loneliness.
Coprophagia - is defined as the eating of feces. This is considered very distasteful by humans. No surprise to you, I'm sure.
There is a connection between coprophagia and nutritional deficiencies such as a lack of B Vitamins, poor diet, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, malabsorption of nutrients, or intestinal parasites. This can be caused by inflammation in the bowel.
Maybe Your Dog Is Just Plain Not Feeling Good.
Call me crazy, but it seems to me that, dogs are like people. Sometimes we behave in ways that are odd, or even quite bizarre. Sometimes we do things we wish we hadn't, or say things that we regret later. Many times this odd behavior is a direct result of our poor eating habits...consuming foods that simply aren't good for us.
Consumption of sugar and poor quality carbohydrates for example, can set up a condition of systemic yeast, or Candida, that can have a devastating effect on our bodies. This can lead to behaviors that don't make sense. Nutrient deficiency due to an overabundance of yeast, can make people and dogs behave in weird ways. Does this sound like you, or your dog?
anxiety, mood swings, unable to learn, hyperactivity. Something to think about, eh?
Some Good Foods to Consider
There are many good table foods you can give your dog. They contain vital nutrients to prevent nutrient deficiencies, and the bonus is...your dog will love them!
Apples - is there a dog alive who doesn't love a few pieces of raw unpeeled apple? Apples contain fiber, vitamins A and C, multiple minerals, and chemicals that act as antioxidants. These chemicals known as flavonoids and polyphenols have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health and are known to have anti-tumor benefits.
We live in Southern Ontario, Canada. We also live in the country, and have several old neglected apple trees on our acreage, that still bear some fruit. It is not unusual at this time of year ( Autumn 2009 ) to see Coyote scat ( poop ) that is loaded with apple skins. Obviously the coyotes have been feasting on the rotten apples that fall to the ground. Yum ! At other times of the year, in the summer for example, the scat might be full of berries.
You see, dogs, wild or not, love some fruit. Here's a picture of Pippin, our neighbor Sharon's little dog, playing with, and eating some small pears from their tree.
Tomatoes - Well, there is much controversy around whether or not tomatoes are poisonous for dogs, or not.
But let me tell you another little story about Pippin.
I have been letting Pippin out for a pee in the middle of the day since he was just a young pup, while Sharon is working. This summer Sharon had a vegetable garden with some scrumptious little cherry tomatoes, warm from the sun and tasting like summer. As soon as I would let Pippin out, he would run to the garden and help himself to a couple of little tomatoes.
Look at the vitamin mineral makeup of tomatoes...
Vitamin B1 Thiamine
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
Vitamin B3 Niacin
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine
Protein...and... much more.
WOW...are you going to tell me that Pippin didn't know what he was doing? I think he did.
Animals instinctively know what's good for them and choose foods that will prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Broccoli - is a cruciferous vegetable with nutrient properties ( phytochemicals ) known to inhibit cancer. It is a wonderful source of calcium. The calcium in broccoli is a more easily accessible and assimilated form of calcium, than the calcium in milk. Raw broccoli contains Vitamin K known for it's blood clotting factors. All Vitamin K is lost during cooking.
My dogs all love broccoli. They each get a few raw pieces before I cook it.
Asparagus - What a powerhouse of nutrition for both people and dogs.
It provides the body with folic acid, Vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins, Vitamin A, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorus. Asparagus can also be a bit of a laxative and a slight diuretic.
My dog Rosie loved asparagus. She was absolutely wild for it. She would whine and drool whenever I was preparing it for dinner. Rosie wasn't a dog that usually begged for food, but asparagus was different. She wanted it...or maybe she really needed it? Only Rosie knew for sure... but again, dogs have that natural instinct about how to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Carrots - are an excellent source of vitamins A,C,D,E,K, B1,B6. Carrots are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, biotin, sodium and trace minerals. Lutein, lycopene, antioxidants, alpha, beta and gamma carotenes, zeaxanthin, and xanthophyll are phytonutrients that are necessary for healing.
Kefir - is a cultured milk product which contains beneficial bacteria for the intestines. Kefir is similar to yoghurt but is more nutritious, providing more and different types of beneficial bacteria that can actually repopulate the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
It supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and B Vitamins. It is great for people and dogs who are lactose intolerant. I give some to my dogs first thing in the morning a few times a week. It keeps their systems running smoothly.
You can get Kefir at your local health food store.
Herbs, Herbal Combinations and Whole Food Supplements to Build Health and Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies
Alfalfa - is known as the King of Herbs. Alfalfa is a rich source of many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients, particularly trace minerals.
It's roots grow 30 to 60 feet deep and so are able to pick up minerals and water that other plants cannot reach. It's trace mineral and amino acid content prevent deficiencies that adversely affect the Pituitary gland.
I like to use alfalfa as a tonic for poor appetite, general weakness and mineral deficiencies.
Systems affected are : bones, cardiovascular system, digestive system, nerves, pineal, pituitary ( anterior ), pituitary ( general ), pituitary ( posterior ), red blood cells, skeletal system, structural system.
Green Zone - is a nutritive formulation, a whole food supplement that can be used to improve general nutrition. Because it is so complete, I like to use it to prevent nutrient deficiencies as well as for general weakness.
It contains: spirulina ( blue-green algae ) amaranth, lecithin, lemon juice powder, chlorella, wheat grass, alfalfa, apple pectin, barley grass, lemon grass, acerola cherry extract, bee pollen, spinach, ginger rhizome, astragalus, echinacea root, milk thistle seed, papaya fruit, shitake mushroom, beet extract, flaxseed, stevia leaf, orange bioflavanoid, royal jelly, rosemary leaf, hawthorn berries, elder berry exract, grapeskin extract, brown rice, bladderwrack, siberian ginseng root, sodium copper chlorphyllin, rhodenol root, ginko biloba leaf concentrate, polyphenol catechins, and licorice root.
Systems affected: Pituitary ( anterior ), whole body.
Nature's Gold is a whole food produced from organic barley seeds. It is made using a special process which causes the seeds to germinate within minutes of each other.
The nutritional value of this product is stabilized allowing it to maintain nutritional value, and enhance nutrient absorption. This gives it all the benefits of barley grass, but with enhanced assimilation of nutrients. It is a highly energized whole food which is 97 % digestible...great for enhancing general health.
I don't usually recommend grain based foods, or products for dogs, but I will make an exception with Nature's Gold, since it is a whole food, highly nutritious easily digested and assimilated. It is a wonderful product for dogs, for maintaining good health, improving health and preventing nutrient deficiencies.
System affected: Cardiovascular system, digestive system, Immune system, Skeletal system, skin, Structural system, whole body.
Nature's Gold is available in Canada only.
I hope this page has given you some ideas for building the general health of your dog. I hope it will help to prevent nutrient deficiencies, which are unnecessary, when the diet is complete and varied.